Crime & Justice

Guatemalan police break up university student protest

Guatemala City, Jun 21 (EFE).- Guatemalan security forces on Tuesday broke up a demonstration in which university students were seeking to halt the election of a new magistrate to the Constitutional Court, the country’s top judicial body.

The university students blocked one of the main avenues in Guatemala City on Tuesday morning to protest the election, but National Civil Police (PNC) officers fired tear gas at the demonstrators, as EFE was able to confirm.

The students’ aim was to halt the vote to choose the new magistrate because of irregularities in the process of designating that official, demonstrators claimed.

Electing the new high court magistrate is the responsibility of the top officials at Guatemala’s state-run San Carlos University, who are facing the rejection of the process by a large number of students, local media reported.

The protest was staged along a main avenue in the western portion of the capital outside a hotel where the election of the new magistrate was under way.

Police arrested at least one person at the scene of the protest, although security forces have not confirmed any figures of that kind resulting from the demonstration.

The students initially positioned a bus across the avenue to block the passage of traffic but ultimately it was removed by PNC officers.

According to local media, a photographer was attacked by a police officer and some of his camera equipment was damaged.

The process to select a new magistrate by university authorities was to be held by secret ballot on Tuesday morning.

According to several social organizations, one of the candidates for the seat on the high court is attorney Juan Carlos Godinez, who was sanctioned in 2021 by the United States after being accused of “manipulating” the Guatemalan judiciary.

The Constitutional Court is made up of five serving magistrates and five alternate magistrates, and two of them – one in each group – must be elected by San Carlos University, as established by Guatemalan law.

EFE jcm/cpy/bp

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